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Janis Putelis might have been born and raised in Michigan, but he was made for the western backcountry. While upper Midwest deer were his childhood passion, after high school his focus turned westward.
“I moved to Colorado when I was 19 to be a ski and snowboard bum,” Janis says. “I spent time in the restaurant world and really developed my culinary skills, but mostly, I lived on the mountain.”
Janis’ experiences and new connections soon led him to the world of guiding. By guiding, Janis could earn money in the backcountry doing what he loved in the fall, and then head back to the slopes during winter.
“I’d hunted most of my life,” says Janis. “I started when I was 5 years old. I loved hunting deer, but pursuing other animals always interested me. Guiding out West was just a natural progression, and I did a lot of guiding over the years, mostly for elk in Colorado, but also in Arizona and even in Mexico guiding Coues deer. I had some great mentors and worked for awesome people. I also worked as a fly-fishing guide. I couldn’t get enough of the outdoors—still can’t.”
Janis’ relationship with MeatEater started in a rather unorthodox way. While we often hear the phrase “it’s a small world,” it proved very true in Janis’ transition from guide to producer of the MeatEater Netflix show
“I went to high school with Steve Rinella’s wife,” Janis says with a laugh. “I actually dated her best friend. When Katie and Steve got together, her only hunting and fishing reference was her buddy Janis. Katie and I stayed in touch over the years, and every time elk hunting came up, I was the guy she talked about. Then, one of my good friends, Jay Scott, put an article in Western Hunter magazine with a picture of me in it. I think a bunch of things happened that put me on Steve’s radar, and he reached out.”
A sheep hunt near Fairbanks, Alaska, would be Janis’ first-ever trip with Rinella. Janis had been living in Alaska for a year and jumped at the chance.
“I couldn’t really afford backcountry hunts with bush planes and stuff. This was a great way for me to get some solid Alaska backcountry experience. I was coming along as a WPA (wilderness production assistant). I carried a lot of gear and cooked a lot of dinners. I did a lot of grunt work, but I was spending time in the outdoors and getting paid. Eventually I started taking on more and more responsibilities and came to where I was producing the MeatEater show. I was always interested in writing, and I stared to doing a lot of work on our two-volume guidebook series on hunting, butchering, and cooking big and small game. During this time we also launched the MeatEater podcast. It’s been an adventurous seven years for sure, and I feel so lucky to have landed where I did. We are currently working on finishing up season 9 of ‘MeatEater,’ and we are in the middle of a very cool new book project.”
Throughout all of it, Federal has always been Janis’ go-to brand. Part of that connection has stemmed from Federal’s wide product line and the brands ability to offer something for every hunter and shooter. “Personally, I’ve always been a fan of copper ammo. It has so many benefits,” Janis says. “I love the accuracy and terminal performance it provides, the longer bullet design of most rounds and the nearly 100 percent weight retention you get.”
With a relationship like that, it’s no surprise that MeatEater and Federal have partnered on an exclusive line of ammunition, which includes Trophy Copper, as we all 3rd Degree and all-new Federal Premium Bismuth.
“As longtime consumers, we are all stoked to be with Federal,” says Janis. “When you think of quality ammo, you think of Federal. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our partnership.”
Extract maximum performance from your favorite cartridge with Federal Premium Trophy Copper, the ammunition that fills Steven Rinella's freezer.